You already know that safeguarding your Social Security number can prevent identity theft, but you might be wondering exactly what hackers and con artists can actually do with that information. What kind of damage can they really do?
You might be surprised. Check out these four sneaky ways that criminals can use your Social Security number to their advantage. You could also say that these are four reasons to safeguard your information!
Credit card scams. Getting a credit card under someone else’s name is ridiculously simple. All a crook needs is your name, address, and Social Security number. And, of course, those first two pieces of information are readily available to just about anyone. Within a month or two, one person could run up thousands of dollars of debt in your name!
Fake phone accounts. As with credit card companies, a mobile phone carrier only needs your name, address, and Social Security number in order to open a new account. Con artists often create phone numbers under someone else’s name, to keep their criminal activities under the “radar”.
Tax refund scams. Imagine you file your tax return, anticipating a refund check… then the IRS notifies you that you’ve already filed and received it! Unless you’re suffering from major memory loss, it’s likely that a criminal stole your Social Security number, filed your return, and already claimed your refund via a direct deposit into their account. Unfortunately, it’s not as easy to trace these people as you might think.
Fake identities. This one is really scary. If your state only requires a Social Security number and a driving test in order to obtain a driver’s license, a criminal could obtain fake identification in your name. From there, they can get a passport, take out loans, and more. If they commit another crime while using “your” ID, you can imagine the legal headache that could ensue!
Consider these four common scams as terrific reasons to keep your Social Security number locked up tight. Never give out this number over the phone, even if the caller sounds quite “official”, and the same goes for emails that appear to be legit. No one except the IRS, and perhaps your doctor’s office, should ask for this information.